the experience of saying yes

Three weeks ago I decided to say yes to whatever was asked of me…for one month. It has been a life-changing decision. One of the things that has surprised me the most is how saying yes, has relieved me of the burden of my over-analytical mind, and simultaneously freed up time.

I used to be a big fan of saying that I’d pray about something, turn it over, see if I got any direction in my dreams, blah, blah, blah, before I would commit to saying yes. I hadn’t realized how much I was stalling Life and putting It off.

Saying yes has freed up something inside of me. I have a new enthusiasm for simply getting up in the morning. I literally can’t wait to see what will be asked of me; what new thing, that I couldn’t even have imagined, will show up.

When I first wrote about saying yes, four people recommended the book, The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer, so in the spirit of saying yes, I put in my request at our local library. I thought that I’d open it, read a few pages and return it the same day, having fulfilled my obligation to say yes. Luckily (and I don’t believe in luck) Jack picked it up for me while I was out of town and he began reading it…and he couldn’t put it down…. then he asked if he could read it to me. I said yes. I had the same reaction to the book: I didn’t want it to end.

This began our week of taking every opportunity we could to drive and read…I drove and he read. We’ve visited galleries, cafes, museums, and Indian grocery stores, all in distant places, so we could do this and it has been a magical experience.

Several days ago, someone asked me if I thought I’d continue this practice after my month was over and my immediate thought was, “I am only just beginning this…I am a novice, I am being taught by life something so exquisitely simple yet profoundly life-changing, why would I ever go back to the prison of thinking I knew better than Life?”

I’d love to hear your experience, if this is something that you are doing and I am also open to any questions that you might have.


“oh brother!” new mixed media assemblage (available on My Artwork Page)
Turn of the century wooden dried fruit box with 1900s cigar box (threads showing where lid was removed) mounted inside. Back of cigar box has map from 1950s book, “My Father’s Dragon”. 1850s ambrotype of brothers (looking very unhappy) attached to vintage child’s block and then attached to wooden box. 1940s insert to military binoculars underneath.
This assemblage, on the outside reminds me of all of the things that boys (and all people!) get into, but the faces on these boys really seem to spell trouble…and yet what is inside?…of them…of us all? With this thought in mind, I asked my sons and other men whom I respect, to give me words that represent “brother”. I then printed these words onto old school paper and lined the inside of the binoculars with these strips that say: loyal   bond   faithful   trouble   fun   friend   adventure   love  protect  respect   trust   cracking up  support   helpful   home  family  encourage   inspire.
At the back of the binocular inserts are small mirrors, which beckon us to always look for the good inside of us (no matter what is happening on the outside). Needless to say, I had a lot of fun creating this piece.

This entry was posted on March 21, 2018. 8 Comments

welcome those guides…

Over the past year or so, a lot of people have asked me if Jack and I have moved yet…and this is a reasonable question. I’ve talked, dreamed, wished, hoped, intended, focused on, let go of, took back again, prayed for, and puzzled about moving for a number of years….and still we have not moved. How can I account for this? Of course there are rational explanations but all of these feel hollow.

I’ve come to see the true reason for not moving…and it is rather simple: there was other “work” to do first and moving would have been a distraction. Those of you who have read my posts over the past year and a half know what Jack and I went through… and are still processing. It has been a roller coaster ride of emotions and feelings that has left me more certain than ever that I cannot know or control anything outside of myself…or at times, even my own life. I’ve also begun to embrace this uncertainty in a new way.

Sometimes it takes having our well-planned lives turned upside down or ripped apart before we enter into the stage of spiritual development so crucial for inner peace…. trust. I’ve begun to trust in a much deeper way the divinity that is all around me and includes me.

I always thought I needed a plan and felt like a rudderless ship without one. I don’t have a plan anymore…I have ideas about what I’d like, but I hold them very loosely. I’ve grown much more interested in seeing what happens when I think that I want something.

The other day Jack and I visited a museum to see the work of Joseph Cornell. After, as we walked through the gift shop I saw a pair of earrings that I liked a lot, but didn’t buy. Instead, I came home and started looking on-line for modernist, sterling, handcrafted earrings. I became a little obsessed so I stopped.

The next day we decided to take a ride to donate a bunch of things at a thrift store. As Jack brought the items to the back, I browsed the tiny shop and spotted a gorgeous sterling silver modernist handcrafted pair of earrings…for $2.50. I didn’t see a signature on them but it didn’t matter. They were exactly what I wanted. Only after we arrived home did we discover the mark of Ed Levin.

This was such a small thing, but it felt like a wink from my higher self…I hadn’t wanted to go to that particular thrift store but Jack really wanted to, so in the spirit of saying YES, I agreed.

I don’t’ think that we need to suffer huge traumas to grow. I believe that opportunities to change and expand are constantly being presented…and that they can be as gentle as a nudge or a whisper to awaken out of our sleeping, troubled, mind-directed way of living. But if/when those traumas do happen, like they have in my life, can I welcome them? Can I see them as missed opportunities that have come back again to help me? Can I see them as “guides from beyond”?


The Guest House

This being human is a guesthouse.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

Jalaluddin Rumi

from Rumi: Selected Poems, trans Coleman Barks with John Moynce, A. J. Arberry, Reynold Nicholson (Penguin Books, 2004)



After publishing yesterday’s post, I expected to hear from people…I didn’t realize that I had this expectation when I wrote. As the day unfolded I did receive a few responses…but none were saying what I had anticipated. None were asking for time to talk or work out some past issue with me…all were expressing gratitude in one form or another for our connection.

Another thing that surprised me was how I felt and how I knew that someone was expressing a lot of negative emotion as they thought about/talked about? me. Late in the morning, I was driving and suddenly felt a wave of crushing energy coming at me. As it hit my chest I began to panic a little and suddenly realized what it was.

My thought was, “Open and let this flow through you.”

I imagined the space inside me being clean and clear. I imagined the connection, with the person who was experiencing pain around me, being cleared/healed. Instead of withdrawing into thought/worry or tying to “protect” myself, I welcomed it.

After this experience, I could see, not with my conscious mind, but with a deeper knowing, that everyone…everything is showing me a facet of myself: a tiny facet reflecting back what I think and do.

This entry was posted on March 4, 2018. 4 Comments



I’ve thought a lot about forgiveness lately.

I’ve watched myself struggle with it…not wanting to forgive, at times, and yet wanting forgiveness from everyone and every situation where I have been the one to cause pain.

I’ve noticed my tendency to rationalize, to an absurd degree, my part in situations and events that hurt others and realized that if I spent even one tenth the effort in trying to “rationalize” (or look with self-reflective understanding) the other person’s actions, I would find no blame.

To be fair to myself, I do this…often. Yet I’ve also become aware that there is more to do. A part of me has been afraid to open up and hear what others have to say about me…about how I have hurt them or negatively impacted their lives.

It feels odd to say that I am no longer afraid of this…that I feel an open and welcoming energy about it, but it is the truth.

So, why am I writing about this here on the blog? Could someone reading this right now be feeling hurt by me? If so, then I invite you to a conversation…please. I am open and willing to hear you…fully*.

I’m writing this today because the idea came to me early this morning and I said YES to it….




*my email is and this is a good place to begin

This entry was posted on March 3, 2018. 4 Comments

In the flow….


Another thing that I’d done on my walk yesterday involved standing under a Maple tree trying to catch a little of the sap (dripping from a cut branch) on my tongue. I love doing this and had wished that Jack could try some too. This was at about 8:30 a.m.

Back home, I began to write the post, about saying yes for a month, but couldn’t finish since I needed to meet a friend for tea. I walked into the Roundhouse Café and noticed the glass container…full of sap. Say YES to life and watch how things flow to you…effortlessly…could this be the message here? By 11:30 a.m. , Jack was having his first sip of sap.

So, I’m not quite into my first 24 hrs. of saying yes and this is what has happened:

Last minute dinner invitation last night…yes (lovely, lovely time)

Request to read someone’s book and write a review….yes (haven’t done yet but will begin this weekend)

Request on the blog to write about whether or not I’ve moved yet….yes (within a week)

Invitation to an International Women’s Day meeting…yes


How do I feel?

So happy to be writing and sharing with you. I was up very early this morning and smiled when I read that 4 of you suggested the same book, The Surrender Experiment, by Michael Singer. I think I’m going to have to buy it. Thank you for the suggestion…I am saying YES to it!



Expect the Unexpected*



*another mixed-media piece that I did over the winter…available on my Artwork page

This entry was posted on March 2, 2018. 4 Comments

A month of saying YES



“HOME”…new mixed media piece*

On my walk this morning, as I pondered a dream I’d had last night, I realized that I was protecting my time…my life…too much. For a number of years, I’ve had a fear of being too involved, too scheduled, too busy, so I’ve backed away when I felt overwhelmed.

But in my dream, I had literally stepped into a class (all women students, being taught by a woman) and was delighted to be there. Each of the women in this class was very active/busy. All seemed happily engaged. I only knew one woman, and in waking life she is a very good friend and also the most scheduled person whom I’ve ever met…but I wanted to be a part of this group. I felt that I almost belonged there although my friend expressed doubt that I was ready…but she did make room for me.

Later in the dream she was telling me about another friend who had, on a whim, during a storm? bought 8 dinners of salmon and drove them 8 hours to feed her friends. As I listened to this I thought, “How wonderful. What generosity and abandon!”

So as I was walking today, the idea of “A month of saying YES” came to me. The idea is to SAY YES to whatever comes along and see what happens, write about it on the blog, share this adventure, and also invite you to come along and share your experiences as well.

Will I always say yes? I don’t know…I am going to try… for the fun of it and for the adventure of it.

I’ll keep you posted….



*Over the winter I’ve worked on some new mixed media pieces and this is one of them…they are all for sale on my artwork page. Feel free to email me if you have any questions,

Ahhh…grist for the mill of awakening

I pulled into the parking lot of our local grocery store a few months ago and noticed these dogs in the car next to me…so friggin cute

Thanksgiving is a few days away, and for many of us this can be a time of intense emotions and feelings: happiness, anxiety, joy, sadness, contentment, loneliness, inner peace, anger and resentment, compassion, disappointment, belonging, rejection, anticipation…and at least for me, the “negative” emotions are doubly charged because I don’t think that I should be feeling these…especially around the holidays. But I’ve come to know that part, if not all, of the pain is the result of me resisting what is happening or what I am feeling in the moment…thinking that things/people should be different than they are/were, or that I should be different than I am/was.

When I find myself in the middle of this negative thought, I try first of all to acknowledge the feelings…not fight with them…and then, if I can, I try to find a different/new way of seeing.

This isn’t easy with old wounds. If I can catch myself in a new situation that is challenging, and I don’t let it gain momentum, often times it transforms…but with those old experiences that I didn’t have the tools or the desire to handle in a higher way, I unconsciously built up a stories and told them (even if just to myself) over and over until my version, my small little painful version, seemed like the only truth. There is a part of the mind that strongly balks at the idea of seeing painful situations in a new light…especially if we feel we were the ones who were “innocent”.

When my father died in February and had cut off communication with me for the last 6 months of his life, I had a pretty strong resentment against him and his wife, Jane, who didn’t let me know about his condition, and left it to her daughter to call me after he had died. During that phone call, she casually told me that my father was very important to her and that he only wanted her there during his last days. I didn’t even know this woman. It felt like the final insult from all of them, and yet, I knew a different story.

While my father was alive, and we were communicating, he would say to me, almost every time we met, “Jane is very hard but I’m too old to get a divorce. I have to go to her family functions. They don’t mean anything to me.” He was tired. He didn’t want to fight with her so he gave up and gave in. My father was a good actor and he was dishonest in so many ways, but I still loved him and I knew that he loved me.

So, several months after his death when I still felt angry and indignant, I made a decision to see things differently. I didn’t try to see a new angle, but I wanted to be out of the pain of resentment so I became willing…I became a little bit more open. Shortly after I made this decision, while on a walk, I had a huge insight and saw the last 6 months of my father’s life in a new way, “He was sick and dependent on Jane. There was no way that anyone was going to see him except they go through her. He was sparring me that! Oh my god…I knew the truth of it. Maybe it was cowardly on his part, maybe it wasn’t a healthy way of dealing with our relationship but it was his way of protecting me and it was the best he could do.” As I continued on my walk, I thanked him and I could feel his energy and smile…I heard him laugh. I got it.

But now I needed to see the situation with his wife and stepdaughter in a new way, because I didn’t feel the love with them and never had a positive history to draw upon.

I’ve watched myself over this past year with several resentments…thinking they are gone and then finding the angry thoughts back and as intense as ever. I’ve even exclaimed in exasperation, “I wish this could just be gone once and for all! I am so sick of thinking about ____”. But was I really?

Being honest with myself, I had to say no, I wasn’t. There was something that I was getting out of these resentments and the rehashing of the past. In the AA literature, there is a line that has always stayed with me,

“In a perverse way we can actually take satisfaction from the fact that many people annoy us, for it brings a comfortable feeling of superiority.” (The Twelve and Twelve, page 67)

Did I feel superior to Jane and her daughter? When I asked this question, I had to say that yes I did. I knew their history…I also knew how Jane and my father had met and it was extremely embarrassing for him.

Had I forgiven her? No. I’d only given it lip service.

Ouch. Now I could see it clearly. Forgiveness is a spiritual law…if I don’t do it, then I don’t feel it. Period. I could hold onto these resentments forever and not allow myself to grow or I could do the very big work of allowing a new way of seeing. This is where my immature adolescent girl rears her head. She would rather say, “F  you. You hurt me and now I hope that you are miserable. No way I want you to feel happy and blessed. I want you to suffer!”

But my higher self says, “You are the one who is suffering, Mary. It is time to let go. It is time to forgive so you can be free. The choice is yours. You want it to be easy but maybe it isn’t. Is that OK with you? Are you willing to go through the fire as the petty, vengeful, thoughts burn away?”

And I answered, “Yes I am. Help!” A few days later I was helping Jack clean out an old trunk at his store and he handed me a book, The Gentle Art of Blessing, that I’d given him a few years back. I opened it and read the following passage,

“What is appealing about the spiritual path, as the American spiritual teacher Ram Dass has stressed, is that everything is ‘grist for the mill.’ Absolutely everything—a traffic jam, an illness, a theft, a noisy neighbor, a flat tire—becomes an opportunity to learn, discover, progress, repent, rejoice, unveil, awaken, love more, and wonder. The smallest detail of life, every single encounter—be it with a saint or a snail—can sparkle with tender interest and become aglow with enchantment.”*

These few words helped me to reframe my resentments…why not simply call them “grist”. I loved that thought. If the grinding feelings inside can be redirected from telling the same old painful story to a feeling of productive energy then why not give this a try…and I did. Instantly I felt lighter and more open. Who doesn’t want to “sparkle with tender interest and become aglow with enchantment”?

This lovely little book opened a door for me…a door that I was ready and willing to walk through…what a relief…. not that I’m done with this work…maybe it will go on for as long as I am alive. Fine. I’m human too. Sometimes I feel so inadequate to the task…but sometimes not.

So, as this season of Light approaches, I wish for you all open hearts and open doors…and if you’re not ready to walk through them yet, fine…I love you anyway, just as I am loved as I walk, and sometimes stumble, on this path of awakening. I love you as I love myself because you are human too and you and I have egos that sometimes act like spoiled kids…and sometimes we can just laugh at this…but we keep walking.



*The Gentle Art of Blessing by Pierre Pradervand